The Shadow debuted on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of the Street and Smith radio program Detective Story Hour. After gaining popularity among the show's listeners, the narrator became the star of The Shadow Magazine on April 1, 1931, a pulp series created and primarily written by the prolific pop culture icon by pulp writer Walter B. Gibson.
Over the years, the character evolved. On September 26, 1937, The Shadow radio drama officially premiered with the story "The Deathhouse Rescue", in which the character had "the power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him." Street & Smith entered into a new broadcasting agreement with Blue Coal in 1937, and that summer Gibson teamed with scriptwriter Edward Hale Bierstadt to develop the new series. As such, The Shadow returned to network airwaves on September 26, 1937, over the new Mutual Broadcasting System. Thus began the "official" radio drama that many Shadow fans know and love, with 22-year-old Orson Welles starring as Lamont Cranston, a "wealthy young man about town." Once The Shadow joined Mutual as a half-hour series on Sunday evenings, the program did not leave the air until December 26, 1954.
Even after decades, the unmistakable introduction from The Shadow radio program, long-intoned by actor Frank Readick Jr., has earned a place in the American idiom: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!" These words were accompanied by an ominous laugh and a musical theme, Camille Saint-SaÃ«ns' Le Rouet d'Omphale ("Omphale's Spinning Wheel", composed in 1872). At the end of each episode, The Shadow reminded listeners:
"The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay.... The Shadow knows!"
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